Fleshcult Steam Progress Update #2

I’m deep in the middle of writing the Infestation Tome. It’s taking a while. Here’s what I’m trying to achieve:

  1. Players who are grossed out by this stuff aren’t penalised if they don’t pick it.
  2. Players who like this stuff aren’t penalised by picking it.
  3. You can do interesting stuff in encounters with it.
  4. Mortals only get infested consensually, and it’s believable that they’d be cool with this.
  5. After they get infested, there’s enough unpredictability and variation that it feels like the creatures have a life of their own.

I think I’ve got a design that’ll work, but there’s a fair bit of writing to go because it’s starting to look a lot like a second seduction track.

Fleshcult Steam Page Up

I posted the store page for Steam Fleshcult, so if you want to wishlist it, go here!

I did some sales estimates and thought some more about what it’ll take to make the game easily moddable, and I’m not sure I can get there on $1. I’m now looking at a price of $2. It seems to be a popular price point with several other small adult games.

Fleshcult Steam Progress Update

I’ve sent a Windows test build out to testers. On my computers it’s stable and I can play through to the end, but I suspect there’s still many compatibility and polish issues to discover on other configurations.

I’m signed up to Steam as a dev. Signing up is a bit like buying a gun: you can’t release a game until 30 days have passed, to prevent crimes of passion. This puts the earliest possible release date in October. In any case I’ll need some time to dig out and finish off the Infestation Tome, and make allll the marketing assets. Did you know Steam requires 10 logo images, all in different sizes and subtly different aspect ratios? And screenshots – my mind goes blank when I try to think of an exciting Fleshcult screenshot. That’ll be tricky.

So far I’ve been using PyInstaller to produce an exe. I’m unsettled to read reports that Anti-virus programs really hate PyInstaller exes. I guess an interpreter running bytecode embedded inside the same executable looks like fancy footwork to evade detection heuristics. This is not helped by PyInstaller’s lead dev’s pig-headed insistence that it’s not his problem to offer a less suspicious-looking process. I might have to revisit this decision, but we’ll see how it goes.

Fleshcult on Steam?

In the previous post I laid out how I’m gonna make a downloadable version of Fleshcult. The question is, how should I distribute it?

Putting it on Steam has a lot of interesting potential. It’d bring it to a new audience. If it does well, that might put restarting development into a new light. Modding support via Steam Workshop would be really cool. And Steam’s just really convenient to use.

On the other hand, Valve’s not in the business of being a file server for totally free or Patreon-supported games. F2P, yes – totally free, no. As I understand it, to pass store page review it has to cost money, or have in-app purchases, or have a plan to make money later. For example, Doki Doki Literature Club has a token item of DLC that acts as a tip jar. Actual DLC content would be cool, but the project doesn’t have enough momentum right now for me to commit to making anything significant – aside from the Infestation tome, which will go in the base game. I could just charge a buck, that would be simple.

I could also stick it on itch.io. They’ll happily host games in exchange for a cut of the tip jar. So, I’m thinking a buck for the Steam version, which will go towards modding support, and free/pay-what-you-want on Itch.

What do you think? Any other options I should be considering?

Downloadable Fleshcult: A Breakthrough

Remember how I was struggling to make a client-side version of Fleshcult? I’d settled on an approach, but it was still a significant amount of work. Now I’ve found a huge short cut.

There’s this thing called Python CEF and it lets me build a web browser engine into a Python program. I’ll get into the technical details below, but the end result is a totally self-contained version of Fleshcult that runs locally as an application. The downside is that it no longer runs on mobile, and making Mac and Linux versions will require some additional work.

I’ve been working on it for about a week and I’ve already made a lot of progress. I can play through encounters and recruit minions, but there are still of a lot of details to attend to. Hosting the server-side processing has been costing me about $60/month for the past 8 years, so I’m feeling pretty stoked to get that monkey off my back. It also opens up some interesting possibilities that I’ll get to in the next post.

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Shutting down the Patreon

After spending the last 5 months working a contract gig, I’m taking stock of the Patreon to fund Fleshcult 2. It hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. As you might recall, I was only going to start payments after reaching a pledge total of $1500. Thanks to 45 stalwart fans, we managed $313, but it looks like it’ll plateau far short of $1500. Thanks again to everybody for getting me this far.

I’m of the opinion that failure to reach a funding threshold isn’t the worst thing that can happen in crowdfunding. In that case, you learn a bunch of things and walk away unscathed. The real worst case is low-balling the threshold, just barely getting funded, and then trying to meet a bunch of obligations without enough money. So no, I’m not going to reduce the threshold and try again.

What Now?

Get a haircut and get a real jooo-ooob*, I guess. Ridiculously, I still don’t have the infestation tome finished, which I’m sure didn’t help matters. I’ll continue to twiddle with that in my spare time. I also still want to do that client-side version of Fleshcult, but neither of these efforts have a timeline.

I doubt I’m completely finished with adult games, but I don’t know if I’d make another attempt without assembling a team first. At the least, a writer or artist as a business partner. Game programmers like myself often overestimate our ability to make an adult game solo, hand waving away the “content” needed. But nobody ever jacked off to a game mechanic, so it’s the art and writing that’s the bulk of the work.

* If you’re looking for a programmer for your adult game and you’ve got a budget to spend, I’d be interested to hear about it at jack@thegamename.com.

I have experience in C#, C++, Python, Java, HTML, CSS and have shipped games using Unity to Steam and to the web, as well as iOS/Android games using a custom engine.

Contract Work

This week a lucrative piece of contract work landed in my lap. Seeing as the Patreon is a ways off funding a full restart of Fleshcult development, I took the gig. The client’s in an awful rush and it has overtime written all over it. Realistically I don’t think I’ll be able to restart progress on the game until mid-November at least, possibly longer depending on how long it’ll take me to decompress from the crunch and tidy up dribs and drabs.

I’m sorry I didn’t manage to get the infestation tome out before I got interrupted. I’ve been accumulating writing for it, but my initial game mechanic ideas for the verbs turned out really unfun, so it’s just not ready.

If you’re a patron, don’t panic! No releases, no charge, as always.

Paper prototyping and the plague

This is the part where I’d like to announce a new release, but instead I’m announcing that I’ve spent the last 3 weeks wrecked by viral tonsillitis. Woo! I hate to perpetuate the 4chan stereotype that adult game authors are ne’er-do-wells and flakes, but I haven’t found a way to project manage away being a one man project that’s one man down.

I did get one thing done during my convalescence. I started on paper prototyping Fleshcult 2’s lair mechanics. My idea is that instead of assigning beasts and concubines into pairs, you’d assign minions into the lair’s various rooms: mana extraction rooms, tease rooms, recreation rooms, transformation labs, and the like. This would be accompanied by text snippets with concise descriptions of any sexy situations there.

Each minion has stats for lust, health, and homesickness/happiness, and each ‘slot’ in the rooms has rules for how these get modified. For example, if you’ve got a concubine and a beast in a mana extraction room, you might drop an apprentice into the room’s Voyeur slot to scrub off their accumulated lust, so their lust doesn’t max out and damage their happiness.

How did it play? Well, there’s definitely strategy to it. Maybe too much – I want to leave enough player attention spare so that I can deliver sexy text and images without the player being overwhelmed by numbers. I think next time I’ll go for two stats per minion because I’m not sure that the two different welfare stats are paying their way. Also, I found I was shuffling everybody every turn, which is way more micro than I’m aiming for. I think I can fix that just by increasing the stat capacities so that everything happens more gradually.

Client side version progress: PyPy.js

In my last post about producing a version of Fleshcult that runs locally in the browser rather than on a server, I was wrestling with the need to translate all the Python code into Javascript.

I think I’ve found a way around it. PyPy.js translates Python into Javascript on the fly, right inside your browser. It’s a just-in-time compiler to asm.js rather than an interpreter, so it’s surprisingly efficient.

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Release v1.01

The Fleshcult Patreon is finally up after languishing in Patreon’s mod queue for quite a while. And with it, a game update that lets me grant backer rewards such as cheats and ad-free play.

There’s no new content in v1.01 though. That comes in v1.02, where I’ll be adding the long-awaited Infestation Tome. I promised that in the original OffBeatr campaign, so I’m going ahead with that regardless of how this Patreon does.

So, will I start doing a big promotional push? Not yet. After I’ve got some new content to show people I’ll start sending out newsletter updates, but a little at a time, so as to not overload the server. I really can’t wait to have a client-side version. I’ve been making some significant progress on that front, and I’ll post about it soon.